The Refugee ‘Crisis', Public Administration and the Procurement of Services for Refugees in Greece

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
John McIntyre - Teaching Room 208 (University of Glasgow)
Katharina Sarter , Law, Economics, Accountancy & Risk, Glasgow Caledonian University
Lena Karamanidou , Law, Economics, Accountancy & Risk, Glasgow Caledonian University
The Syrian refugee 'crisis' has had significant effects for both the European Union and its member states, especially those in the frontline of receiving refugees. In 2015, the dramatic rise in refugee flows entering Greece through the Aegean islands triggered a full-scale humanitarian crisis. The intensity of flows contributed to the collapse of reception and asylum determination systems and essential humanitarian assistance was predominantly provided by volunteers, local authorities and host communities. These responses point to the long-term weaknesses of the Greek public administration in providing adequate reception conditions and support services for refugees and asylum seekers. Similarly to other EU countries, essential services such catering, interpretation and legal aid are often contracted rather than provided directly by the Greek public sector. Thereby, public procurement is a key mechanism for their provision, and plays a significant part in ensuring reception standards and procedural safeguards in accordance to domestic and EU legal frameworks on asylum. Yet, public procurement procedures remain under-researched, despite their increasing significance in the context of the crisis. Our paper addresses this gap. Using Greece as a case study, we examine public procurement practices related to three crucial services: catering in reception and detention facilities, the provision of translation and interpretation services, and the provision of legal aid. We examine key features of invitations for tender such as contract conditions and award criteria which can serve as indicators for the quality of services provided. We conclude by discussing their potential impact on reception and access to refugee protection.